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Representation of Indian Folk Artists x Rooftop

representation of Indian folk artists

Being considered as the “original owners of the land”, the indigenous community has often expressed themselves through art. Their cultural practices, traditions and beliefs are intertwined with it. Not just as a mode of expression but art also serves as a medium to preserve and promote their legacy and skills through generations. The Indian folk artists are a reservoir of creativity and diverse culture. Yet, the concern of inadequate representation of Indian folk artists is multifaceted and persistent. It encompasses political, social, economic, and cultural aspects. Tribal communities in India, make up a significant portion of the country’s population, with over 700 distinct tribal groups.

There are several reasons contributing to this dilemma 

Lack of Access to Education: 

Many tribal communities face barriers to education, such as a lack of schools, qualified teachers, and the language gap, which limits their access to quality education. Without education, tribal individuals often find it challenging to participate in the worldly process and other sectors of society. Inspite of having the skills and understanding of art, their prowess does not meet the right source or dais which could provide them with exposure.

Economic Disparities: 

Poverty and economic disparities are prevalent among tribal communities, making them vulnerable to exploitation and marginalization. Inadequate livelihood opportunities and poverty result in limiting their access to proper resources. It becomes difficult to sustain or promote their art forms.   

Cultural and Language Barriers: 

Indigenous communities have their distinct languages, cultures, and traditions. The dominance of mainstream culture and languages in social setups can alienate them and limit their active participation.

Lack of Awareness: 

A lack of awareness about their rights and entitlements often hinders tribal communities from engaging with the world market. 

Efforts have been made to address these issues, such as affirmative action policies, land rights legislation, and the establishment of autonomous councils in certain tribal regions. However, the challenges are deep-rooted and require a multi-pronged approach that includes improving education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, and ensuring the effective implementation of existing policies.

Empowering tribal communities through education, skill development, and awareness campaigns, and ensuring their representation in decision-making bodies is crucial for addressing the issue of poor representation of Indian folk artists. Additionally, it is essential to respect and preserve their cultural heritage while integrating them into the larger fabric of the nation.

Meanwhile, How Rooftop Advocates for Indian Folk Artists

Rooftop positively aims to bring a gradual difference in this scenario. Tribal communities are known for their art and culture which is still a blindspot for the masses of India at large. Rooftop collaborates with Indian traditional artists which makes generations-old art accessible to art enthusiasts.

Padma Shri awardee Bhuri Bai

Through Maestro Courses, Rooftop collaborated with Padma Shri awardee Bhuri Bhai hailing from the Bhil community. Bhil art which was practised by the village women on mud walls, was brought to paper and canvas by artist Bhuri Bai. Rooftop’s Maestro Course enables the art lover to access the elementary, intermediate, and advanced courses of Bhil art conducted by the Padma Shri awardee.

Another Rooftop collaboration has made one of the most popular folk art from Bihar easily accessible. The Madhubani Maestro course is a set of self-paced modules. It can be easily understood by art learners and enthusiasts. Dulari Devi is an Indian artist and illustrator from Bihar. She was encouraged to pursue her own artistic career as a painter by renowned Madhubani painter Mahasundari Devi, whom she worked for as a domestic servant when she was younger. Dulari Devi’s selection of themes and personas has been referenced as an illustration of how women are increasingly expressing their empowerment. She has also written ‘Following My Paint Brush’ which is an illustrated autobiography following her life’s journey and achievements.

Moreover, Rooftop also collaborated with the Mhase family from Maharashtra to bring the state’s authentic art form to the digital space. Sadashiv Mhase, the eldest son of Padma Shri Jivya Soma Mhase, uses rhythmic, basic shapes to depict the complexity of the world around him and has performed in Delhi, Chandigarh, Odisha, Bhopal, Nagaland, and Goa since 1978. His son, Vijay Mhase, extends the family’s artistic legacy by embracing international consciousness and reflecting global issues in his work, notably capturing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in India and worldwide through Warli art. Pravin Mhase, who learned Warli art from his grandfather, Padma Shri Jivya Soma Mhase, is dedicated to teaching this art form and has travelled extensively, including to Paris, to conduct masterclasses for artists. 

Similarly, other such rural artists who have put their community on the global map have collaborated with Rooftop to bring their traditions, art legacy, and the importance of their art culture to the forefront. From Warli to Pattachitra, Mata ne Pachedi and much more Indian art are collated through accessible videos of artists on Rooftop.

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